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back to article JESUS battery HEALS itself - might make electric cars more practical

Stanford researchers say they have cracked a key problem holding back lithium-ion batteries: which might make the next generation of phones, e-cars and other battery powered equipment a whole lot better. The issue the researchers were facing is that silicon - though an excellent substance from which to make a modern battery …

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Never mind Tesla, is there any interest from Durex?

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"Never mind Tesla, is there any interest from Durex?"

Let me get this right - you want to reuse ?

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Anonymous Coward

Do you really want lithium round there?!

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@Chemist

I think he's had an idea for the spray on coating, .... dealing with enlargement ..... etc.

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Paris Hilton

@ frank ly -

Some synergic effect together with this, maybe?

Paris, because, well - - - coughcoughcough, erm . . .

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Learn your history

Maybe he just wants a condom that works like a pocket-pussy for him, and a rampant rabbit for her.

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would help if you were Bipolar

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I'd be pretty disilusioned if...

Dr Wang had no interest in this application of his development.

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500 cycles?

Only 500 cycles for a cell phone? Don't some folks use their smart-phones enough that they have to charge them every day? That means less than 2 years of life. Not so good if you want to get your money out of the thing.

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Re: 500 cycles?

I read it as the stretchy stuff "loses performance" after 500 cycles, meaning it will offer full protection (and "healing" capabilities) for that long, then gradually decrease its effectiveness until it has no "healing" effect at all. That's not to say the battery will be knackered after this, just that it will no longer receive protection from the coating. The silicon electrodes should then continue to function (and decay) at the rate an ordinary li-ion battery does now.

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Other uses

It would be handy if they can apply the technique to car bodies too.

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Re: Other uses

Some of the are....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp6EPccFIJQ

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LiFePo4 chemistry batteries seem to be rated for 3000-5000 cycles today.. But then you need double amount of them compared to LiCo, LiMNi and similar..

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LiFePo4

The extra mass isn't a problem for larger vehicles such as delivery wagons.

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Re: LiFePo4

"The extra mass isn't a problem for larger vehicles such as delivery wagons."

Go on then, sell that one to the bosses of any logistics firm. I think you'll find that they like their trucks as full as possible for as long as possible, and that they want the ratio of tare weight to gross vehicle weight to be as low as possible. EV's are already crap on either range or payload (unless you;re transporting crisps, air or candy floss), so doubling the battery weight seems like a poor solution.

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Well, that was fairly pointless

The video that is, not the actual research. "This stuff here - it's as stretchy AS RUBBER. Oh and it does some other stuff which we won't show you or attempt to explain in any way." Conclusion: Stanford uni PR unit is run by a bunch of balloon fetishists.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Well, that was fairly pointless

Don't act so high and mighty. You know you have a balloon fetish like all us hetero males do...

Paris, because, like, duh...

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Its a step forward BUT the over-riding problem with big batteries is this:

"What happens when I decide to dump all my energy at once"

Having witnessed 2 people get fried to death in a Ford Pinto in Arizona (where the limiting factor was how fast the air could get to the gasoline) I figure that any large battery is simply a sleeping bomb.

The thought of millions of these things careering down our high streets after 10 years of zero maintenance fills me with horror.

We see it with laptop and smartphone batteries. Imagine a thing 1000X that size.

We see it on 787s, imagine a thing 50X that size built to the cheapest possible spec.

Or are they going to be encased in steel and vented overboard like on the 787?

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Anonymous Coward

say wot ?

"Having witnessed 2 people get fried to death in a Ford Pinto ... I figure that any large battery is simply a sleeping bomb."

You watched a gasoline fire once therefore a battery is a bomb ?

I search vainly for a troll or joke icon, but nothing.

Try facebook or twitter. You will find a warm welcome from kindred spirits there.

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Re: say wot ?

I think you are being a bit unfair there. Cars have a tendency to be involved in accidents, part of a cars design is that it includes an energy store. Under failure the stored energy may get released in an uncontrolled fashion, especially if the failure includes significant physical damage.

I like the idea of electric cars, and will buy one once they hit 300 mile range on a charge, and either fast charge or range extended. However, i fully appreciate that the design issues of a large energy store are significantly different from a laptop battery. From a h&s perspective it's the difference between injury and multiple deaths

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Anonymous Coward

Re: say wot ?

We have data from a few Tesla crashes that tells us batteries can catch fire, but they don't explode. Five mins with google would have alerted the OP to this.

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WTF?

Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

I don't get electric cars in the first place, please pardon this curmudgeon.

Unless one has aeroelectric or hydroelectric (and what percentage of us might that be?) one only displaces the emissions, from the tail-pipe to the fossil-fueled generator station smokestack. So, still, toxic emissions mount while stocks of fossil fuels decline. The environment still is damaged and, thus, we and our children still are in danger.

Or, worse, one trades-off the emission for fuel-rod waste. And that, can it be said honestly and truly, we have figured out what, safely and sustainably, to do with? I think not. So, still, the environment is damaged and risky.

Then there's the battery-- this is a little more on-topic-- as Tesla concedes, it will die. And dead batteries of that size and capacity, can it honestly and truly be said we know what, safely and sustainably, to do with? Yet again, the environment is damaged and risky.

So, it seems, at day's end, electric automobile power has yet to be an ecologically more-sensible and safer alternative to local internal combustion.

This curmudgeon welcome this news from Stanford. Yet, it seems long before this technology could make a car battery endure to a point of reasonably-valuable trade-off for the toxicity of its inevitably-dead and dangerous husk.

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Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

> Unless one has aeroelectric or hydroelectric (and what percentage of us might that be?) one only displaces the emissions, from the tail-pipe to the fossil-fueled generator station smokestack. So, still, toxic emissions mount while stocks of fossil fuels decline. The environment still is damaged and, thus, we and our children still are in danger.

The point is to prepare us for the longer term advances in power generation.

Electricity is ultimately a clean form of energy.

If we are to move to cleaner forms of grid generation in the future, solving the problem of powering cars has to be part of that process either way. It's just one piece of the puzzle.

Another aspect is that if some of the future possible developments in grid generation like fusion and cleaner nuclear become possible, they will likely be economic only on a grand scale. You will not be able to put a fusion generator in your car (at least initially).

You could argue that hydrogen is a better option, and it might be true. However, ultimately our cars will have to be propelled by something that is zero or low emission and fueled by something that we can cleanly generate.

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Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

Sokolik, when talking about emmisions you're missing one important fact, the generators used to supply electricity are considerably more efficient that an internal comustion engine - have a read here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combined_cycle#Efficiency_of_CCGT_plants

versus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_combustion_engine#Energy_efficiency

What a lot of people also don't realise is that it takes a fair bit of electricity to refine petrol or diesel so in effect fossil fuels are used twice over when you run your car.

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Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

@Sokolik:

I suspect electric automobile battery recycling will become an industry, much as lead-acid automobile battery recycling is already. It's not as if the silicon is transmuted into lead, after all. Per the article, it simply goes to pieces.

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Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

Thanks to all. Skel, while my first reaction to your comment is skepticism, I will consider your comments. CW and Ian: thank you for enlightening me and broadening my horizons. You have nudged me closer to the electric car as a solution, if only transitional, for cleaning-up the atmosphere.

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Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

Yes, an electric car is only a coal-fired car at one remove since 90% of electricity comes from Coal-fired power stations, unless of course you are using clean green Nuclear Fission, in which case it's a fusion-powered car! I'll take CO2 emissions any day over enriched plutonium, thank you very much! I guess you could plug your Tesla sports car into a rack of solar cells and leave it to charge for a month or so between drives. For most of us, if we buy one of these expensive rich men's toys, we would plug it into the nearest power outlet, and suck the electricity straight from the Coal or Nuke.

Cleaner to burn petrol.

Why are we not developing Hydrogen-powered cars?

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Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

Unless one has aeroelectric or hydroelectric (and what percentage of us might that be?) one only displaces the emissions, from the tail-pipe to the fossil-fueled generator station smokestack

The tail-pipe moves, the smoke stack doesn't. That makes it much easier to capture emissions from the smoke stack and deal with them.

The smoke stack (and power station connected) will also eventually be replaced by something cleaner (e.g. solar, wind, hydro … or when they get the waste storage problem sorted … nuclear).

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Pint

Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

Upvoted. Thanks for highlighting a frequently overlooked point.

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Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

Never mind ecology; let's also consider the possibility that stopping giving some Arab states (with their crazily unpleasant human rights track records) all our money and guns is a good idea.

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Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

"Why are we not developing Hydrogen-powered cars?"

Because generating hydrogen at the momen either means using fossil fuels or electricity at poor efficiency

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Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

here is some gov info that may help

http://assets.dft.gov.uk/statistics/series/energy-and-environment/climatechangefactsheets.pdf

after power gen transport is the next biggest target, though when you drill into it domestic transport accounts for 20% of CO2 and of that cars and taxis are 58% of the 20% so 11.6 % overall.

If all cars were electric that 11.6% would be reduced providing an easyish way of reducing CO2 according to UK gov though without investing in power gen it will not work anyway.

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Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

Please tell me this is a Troll. If not:

Nuclear Fission power stations would make your car Nuclear Fission powered, not Nuclear Fusion powered.

90% of electricity doesn't come from Coal, at least not in the UK or probably any other developed country.

We ARE developing hydrogen powered cars. Unfortunately you're talking about a fuel with a tiny volumetric energy density unless it's pressurised- it needs to be something like 300bar (4500PSI) before it's anywhere near as good as petrol. That means a heavy containment vessel or an enormous explosion in a crash- not a burn like with petrol but a proper Hollywood explosion. And a big crater. Then there's embrittlement of various materials as the hydrogen screws with them- so you need to be vey careful with the materials you use at all points. And then you need to go through the whole process again for the rest of the fuel-handling system and anything that could come in contact with it if/when vented. And THEN, after all this you need to make it production-line ready and able to last 20 years.

Then there's the production of hydrogen and the development of a pipeline network to carrry it all- given the extra wall-thickness required for a pressurised hydrogen tanker over a petrol tanker they're pretty impractical for carrying the volumes of fuel that currently criss cross the country. Producing the Hydrogen would require a phenomenal amount of power, too- and if memory serves is less currently efficient than an internal combustion engine anyway when producing it from water. Which is why most Hydrogen now comes from natural gas. So even your Hydrogen cars derive their energy from fossil fuels, by way of harnessing power stored in other fossil fuels.

So THAT'S why we're not using Hydrogen-powered cars. Because they're a monumental engineering challenge to build and still, currently, have a dependency on fossil fuels. In future this may change, but at the moment their development into a practical /mass-produced/ product is a good way away.

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Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

Chris, when talking about emissions you're missing two important facts.

1)CCGT plants have to distrubute energy via the national grid to the car. This involves transmission losses.

2)The car has to use transformers to transform AC supplied from the grid to DC to be stored in the batteries. This conversion incurs losses.

Was these ommissions accidental? When you take this into account the efficiency difference is not really such a big difference as you suggest in your post, and I would note that you do actually have to use a fair bit of energy to dig a hole in the ground, recover the coal from it, and sort said coal from surronding deposits.

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Re: Off-topic: Electric cars?!?

What? You are reluctant to drive the new Ford Hindenburg?

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Boffin

Not that interested in rubber and batteries but expansion and contraction *three* fold

That spells MEMS actuator technology to me.

I'm thinking of an on chip container will etched pillars and sacrificial supports to create the "pellets" in the chamber and the use of flexures to maintain the activating fluid within the chamber. With the etched volume being less than 2/3 of the volume of the chamber as the Silicon is exposed it expands and exerts pressure on the membrane used to transmit force, effectively the "cylinder head."

The attractive feature of this is that (potentially) high pressure could be excerted without needing to transmit high pressures by some sort of micro hydraulic system (which AFAIK does not scale down well).

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I hope

that "astronishingly strong and stretchy polymer" has some interesting ion porosity properties, or they've just replicated rubber.

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Anonymous Coward

Electric cars are now practical? Really?

"Self-HEALING BATTERY could make electric cars practical at last"

I thought electric cars were not practical because of the time to re-charge and their range. Or did that get solved and I missed it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Electric cars are now practical? Really?

You missed it because you were busy wasting resources by commuting more than 100 miles per day, it seems.

Electric cars become more practical the more charging points appear. BMWs first effort can charge in under 6 hours.

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"they can only do 100 charge cycles before starting to lose performance"

That doesn't sound like an improvement to me.

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Wonderful

Yet another milestone in battery technology. I am so happy.

So now, bets are open as to when we'll actually be able to see something come out with this or any other new battery tech we've been told of in the past ten years.

I'm still waiting for those batteries that can recharge in ten seconds and carry several times the power that a regular Li-ion triple A carries now.

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Re: Wonderful

Yeah exactly, and what about those tiny, high power solar panels someone was working on years ago?

The vid of a guy in a lab coat inflating a black balloon makes the article OK though! :)

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FAIL

Jesus Battery?

Where is the Apple angle then?

Jesus Phone and all that..

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So a phone, 500 charge cycles.

That means it'll be good for 2-3 years?... Where is the benefit here supposed to be, we go from 2-3 years of usage to ... err ... 2-3 years of usage..

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Boffin

So it's a polymer membrane which is Li ion permeable

Which sounds pretty clever.

So the question has to be can they tailor that permeability and let other ions pass through (or not)?

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Standards

It seems to me that what we need is a 'standard' electric vehicle battery, standard in terms of shape, size, connections and nominal voltage. Make it modular enough that a high performance car or large vehicle just has more of them. That way, when you come to replace the battery, you can replace it with the latest and greatest battery technology without any further modifications.

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Anonymous Coward

Still impractical

EV's are impractical for most people and will always be. Longer range is extremely important but that isn't the only issue with EVs. The only reason large auto makers are even bothering with EVs is because the U.S. government has mandated impossible to reason fuel economy standards for 2020. By selling EVs the car makers get an offset that helps them meet the mandated incredible 54.5 mpg requirement for the entire product line up. Most of these EVs will end up in toxic waste dumps in a few years and that will be another environmental disaster to deal with.

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